Good Writing, Bad Writing, and Stephenie Meyer

About year ago, my brilliant niece—who knows just exactly how I feel about Stephenie Meyer’s vampire books—posted a link to my Facebook page. To say I’m inspired by this level of the dissection of fiction (any fiction) is an understatement. :) And since another movie based on this lousy book series is about to release, it may be time for my Twilight rant.

You see, I have a bone to pick with Little, Brown (Meyer’s publisher). As an editor—as a publishing professional—I’m insulted that these books got so little editorial attention. I can say this because I have read all of them. (Admittedly I skimmed that last one because it was. So. Purely. Awful.) Stephenie Meyer’s developmental editor should hang her head in shame. So should her copyeditor.

Don’t get me wrong, Twilight (the first book in the series of four) has some redeeming qualities. It was a very honest depiction of an intellectual falling-in-love, I thought, and because intelligence is always what I’m attracted to, the initial story hooked me early. Aside from the epic love story, the premise was interesting (vampires who recognize that killing humans is wrong—“good” vampires, we’ll say), and Meyer has some ability to build suspense.

I also like the covers, though Meyer gets no props for those.

But on the whole, the books are crap. (Even Stephen King thinks so!) I don’t really blame Meyer; she can’t help it if she’s an amateur writer who got absolutely no help from her editor. In case I haven’t made myself plain, my friends, despite the millions of copies in print and the blockbuster movies, these books are just plain bad. Don’t waste your precious life.

How bad are they? Let me count the ways.

Bad romance: Edward breaks into the bedroom of a young girl without her knowledge. He stalks her, for heaven’s sake. The relationship is psychologically unhealthy from Bella’s standpoint too: she completely subverts her personality to please him.

Bad technique: Bella goes on and on and on not knowing why Edward is mad, yet readers already know why he is angry—because we know his character and Meyer telegraphs it through his body language. This is a violation of POV. We shouldn’t discover why Edward is angry until Bella does. Meyer constantly tells, rather than showing. (Show don’t tell is the first commandment in the Novelist’s Bible.)

Bad characterization: Meyer has said she left out a detailed description of Bella so the reader could “step into her shoes” (which sounds to me like something made up after the mistake was pointed out) but the fact is Bella also lacks a personality, goals, interests, and life experiences. The only thing we know about her is she’s clumsy, and that never truly made sense to me. She is weak, passive, and overly emotional. The books reek of melodrama.

Bad craft: Meyer provides a reaction to every single comment. I rolled my eyes, I groaned, he stiffened, I glowered groggily. Here’s one and another example.

Bad storytelling: The books move really, really slowly. They don’t utilize any aspect of modern story structure, which recommends we start out with some piece of action that will reveal the conflict to come. In the case of the protagonists, Bella and Edward, there is no conflict for them to overcome (the most obvious of which would have been for Bella to remain human). And due to the overwriting and repetition, the books are about twice as long as they need to be. Meyer should have been reined in after the first book. I can’t imagine why no one at the publishing house did so.

Bad copyediting: Take it from me, kids, it’s atrocious. Look! Look! I’m shocked it got past the proofers.

Bad fiction: It’s just one coincidence after another in Twilight-land. (Jacob imprints on Renesmee? Oh, stop.) There are continuity errors literally from page to page.

Bad research: It bugs me when Meyer writes that Edward grips the handles of two steamer trunks in one hand. (Steamer trunks? Really?) It annoys the snot outta me when Alice bribes a guard in a foreign city with an American one-thousand-dollar bill, when those bills have been out of circulation since 1969. I could go on and on, but my point is an editor should have questioned every single one of these details.

Meyer breaks the laws of her own universe in the last book. Worse, she breaks the rules of good YA, the first of which is the story stops at the wedding. Teens really don’t like reading about other teens doing the Mom Thing. Why didn’t her editor remind Meyer about her target audience, much of which is tweens? If I’m the mother of a middle-schooler, I don’t want her reading about an eighteen-year-old girl who gets all bruised up after some rough vampire sex, even if it was on her honeymoon. What were Meyer and her editor thinking?

Worst of all, I think, is there’s a whole generation of girls out there, some of them aspiring writers, who will be misled into thinking the Twilight series was good writing simply because it moved them emotionally (and sold a lot of copies). Twilight et al should have been better books. They should have been books that made girls think and grow. Because what’s the point otherwise?

Tweet:  Good writing, bad writing, & Stephenie Meyer.
Tweet:  What you can learn from Stephenie Meyer (don’t do what she does).

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Posted in Authors & Other Writers | Tagged as: , , , , , , , , , | Bookmark the permalink | Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.


  1. Michelle Ule says:

    What can you expect from a book that came from a dream and then HAD to be written?

    What can you expect from a girl who chooses a cold, hard Michelangelo’s David over a warm, shaggy Wookie?

    The only decent scene in the entire series came early in the second book–when Bella got a paper cut opening her birthday present and the vampires destroyed the house. If only the series had ended there.

    I read them because I had a teenager daughter–who can’t stand them now that she’s read them–and because I work in publishing and therefore have to know what sells.

    But it was a hard, arduous slug. Thankfully, I’ve learned how to speed read but you’re right, those dead brain cells will never be recovered. :-(

  2. I read the first book and couldn’t go on. But my daughter loved them all, as did many of the teens and young women at church. So…what do you think she did right? You say she connected emotionally. Any clues on how she did that?

    • Jamie says:

      I thought her description of the two protagonists falling in love as an intellectual process (as opposed to a physical one, since Edward kept his distance) quite engaging. I always thought that was interesting. I’d have to review the book for more specifics, as it’s been some years since I read it (and with many other books both work-related and pleasure read in between). :)

    • Luke says:

      The only engaging thing I could see about these books that would appeal to teens is that an ordinary, or lets say socially awkward, teenage girl is capable of attracting two mysterious and supernatural “hunks” to the point of them wanting to kill each other just to have her. It could be considered empowering to some, but it’s really not. Giving this material to impressionable teens isn’t a good idea. As for the fame, her success is about as impressive as the creator of pillow pets. Take something kids are obsessed with, such as stuffed animals and taking naps. Next you simply draw the premise out in a series of more moderately tweaked products sharing the exact same theme, such as these books. It’s a shame she couldn’t even come up with a different idea for the host. Same s***, different setting… she’s a lazy author, it’s as simple as that.

  3. April Line says:


    I haven’t read those books, but I totally agree about the kinds of things that escape editors. I am much more forgiving of poor proofreading than I am of neglected developmental editing.

    I have a lot of ideas about why it is that quality and emphasis on craft and excellent editing has diminished, but I think most of it goes to money. Publishing houses pay people like me not-a-lot-of money to proof and copy edit, and senior editors are doing double duty as networkers, author schmoozers, talent scouts, AND developmental editors.

    If I were such an editor and had the choice between making incredible notes on a manuscript that’s passable because no matter what people will buy it, and spending that same time signing a new author who has the potential to increase my income, I can see why the choice would be to sign a new author.

    I’m not as seasoned as some of these people, so putting my name on something that sucks wouldn’t be a good career choice for me. But if I were working for a house that encouraged me to increase numbers, and I felt like my job was in danger if I spent too much time editing, I’d probably do the thing that would let me keep my job.

    I think that as book publishers shift their business models and do more epubbing and less trad pubbing, some of these issues will normalize. But I also think, and I can totally see this rationale, too, even though I disagree, that publishing houses have little incentive to publish polished books if amateurs can self-publish books without any kind of external editing at all and make scads of cash.

    Sucks, but there it is, I think.

    Great, entertaining, true post. Thanks.

  4. mags mags says:

    I’ve been reading romance from age 15 when i got introduced to mills and boon then harlequin romance novels I have always been intrigued by the idea of a young woman falling hopelessely in love with a strong male. I have to admit I did not read the books until recently(2012) after watching the first movie on TV.Then as a writer and reader I had to read the book because the movie did not make much sense to me.Like a lot of us ladies the romance angle really got me. I mean its what we all want right? To fall in love with the bad boy your parents don’t like and life loses meaning without him. Unfortunatly for those of us who have fallen in love with the bad boy in real life, the ending is not so happy.
    What i noticed in her writing though is that she got a lot of her ideas from the classics.I kind of figured she has read Shakespear and Jane Austin one too many times because the first book reeks of the classics.
    We have to give the girl props for writing a simple novel that appeals to teenage girls emotionally.
    On the whole as much as I liked reading it I cannot help but think how she set up some poor girls for a lifetime of hurt by encouraging such absurd behavior from boys and young man.
    A lot of girls are out there right now looking for their Edward but for them the story will end a lot differently because in real life obssesive , stalker older boyfriends are very bad news.

    • Jamie says:

      She definitely hits a lot of notes for a lot of women (including me, as noted above). But so much knowledge (or not-knowledge) is absorbed through fiction. Everything I know about writing and editing I learned by reading. I just hate that girls will read this and learn the wrong things about writing and about being human. :) Thanks for your comment!

  5. vanessa says:

    People need to understand her agent requested some revisions too, also, because that novel was YA, it was so long 130,000 words, that makes editors cringe because it’s very long. This is a lesson to YA WRITERS, if you are a debut YA author, don’t make your word count so high, the average YA novel is 55-75k, stay within those limits. So its most likely her editors were lazy because those word counts are long

  6. Jacquelyn says:

    I stumbled on this post because I also struggle with understanding how the Twilight books are so popular. I finally got my hands on the first book, from a donation pile at work; I wouldn’t have paid for that dribble. But I couldn’t get past the first few chapters without going “wtf?”

    Currently I am writing my own fantasy YA-adult aged (16-26) novel because I was so sick of how the Twilight series presented young women/girls. They need to be strong or at least grow into their strength. I’m a new writer, trying to learn from others’ mistakes and the one thing I know for sure, GET A GOOD EDITOR. I am horrible at grammar so I know I will need the help come the editing stage.

    • Jamie says:

      So glad you stumbled here! Check out my archives, there are lots of posts with writing tips. :)

    • jamiechavez says:

      And I should add, an editor does a lot more than correct grammar. There are different types of editors.

  7. Isobel says:

    I read all of them back in highschool, and I absolutely loved the story. It was a fantastic concept, and she really kickstarted the whole vampire trend that’s going on now. However, she is a terrible writer. I. HATE. MEYER’S. WRITING. I could not in good faith recommend anything she has done to anyone.

    On a side note: I am so happy you used Reasoning With Vampires as your examples. I have been following that blog for ages. The girl who writes them does such a great job picking apart each and every flaw.

  8. Katherine says:

    I’m in high school now, but when I was in about 7th grade the Twilight fad caught up with me and I became addicted to it-I mean REALLY addicted, like reading each book 10 times. However, in the past few years my reading tastes have “refined,” so to say, and I cannot help but cringe whenever I think about what a fool I was.
    I could think of a million things, but the main thing that irked me was how utterly unlikeable Edward and Bella were. I don’t mind if an author purposefully tries to add a twist by making you loathe the main characters, but it’s clear that this was not Meyer’s goal. Bella was weak, clingy, and selfish. Edward was obsessive and insanely jealous. In Meyer’s attempt to create the “perfect” romance, it ended up being an ridiculous and irritating debacle.

    • Jamie says:

      I am so thrilled to hear from you, Katherine! This means my theory was wrong, and that you don’t think it was good writing! Yay! There’s lots of great books out there. Stick around—we talk about them here. :) Thanks for commenting!

      • Th says:

        Bella was clingy and selfish?

        What’s the problem? Are you saying that no women in real life are clingy and selfish?

        Do you want characters who represent what you think a woman should be, or what women really are?

        Did you consider that people find it engaging because they can relate to this traits?

        I really don’t understand that argument for “good” writing if that writing entertains you.

        • Jamie says:

          I think this is a straw man argument, dude. Katherine notes the characters were unlikable but says it’s OK if there’s a larger plan for the characters. But there wasn’t. As an editor I would add that this sets the stage for a character’s personal growth. That didn’t happen either.

          As noted in the post itself, I don’t believe the story is all bad. I admit to being “engaged” by it. But the writing is atrocious and the editing is bad too.

          • Th says:

            Who sets the standard for what is good writing?

          • Th says:

            Just to take that a little further. What I mean is, what are you defining as bad writing?

            You can’t base it on reach or popularity since the book sold extremely well.

            Would it be clearer to say that, the writing is of a standard which you personally would not write and therefore cringe at?

            I know many others don’t like the writing, but I find this is the case for most very popular authors. If they sell extremely well, something that appeals to masses, so many people want to tear them down for their poor writing. But, it’s so subjective. I read it and I don’t break down every sentence and analyse it for its correct form and structure, but I do enjoy the writing as a whole.

            So to me, it’s not bad writing. Sice I’m a writer myself, based on this standard I actually feel like I should write “bad” if I want my work to appeal to a large audience because it seems so many high selling authors are considered “bad” writers

          • Mari says:

            Here is why I threw the book across the bookstore — on the first page alone, I ran into at least 8 or 9 sentences that start with It was. While I understand the books were basically Bella’s diary, It was is extremely lazy writing – especially to have that many in such a small space.

            What gets me is that all of these books went through the editing process through the publishing house, yet they came out so poorly. I would cut off my writing arm before I released anything – adult or young adult – that poor in quality.

          • Jamie says:

            There are lots of specific points in the post above about what I’m defining as bad writing.

  9. […] I’ve been kind of obsessively reading over some of her older posts, and then I came across this little gem. In which she discusses some of the many many many problems with what I’ve come to dub the […]

  10. […] You might think this example contradicts what I’ve said because it’s cool to hate on Stephenie Meyer’s writing. […]

  11. Florence L says:


    Even with bad fiction, it still can get published AND sell millions copies.

  12. […] means is they found the story compelling. This is the same thing women said about Twilight—and I’m on record as having been hooked, initially, by that story, so I get it. A good story covers a multitude of […]

  13. My spouse and I absolutely love your blog and find the majority of your post’s to be precisely what I’m looking for. Do you offer guest writers to write content available for you? I wouldn’t mind creating a post or elaborating on a lot of the subjects you write regarding here. Again, awesome weblog!

    • Jamie says:

      I tried to email you regarding my policy on guest posts, but received a bounce-back. Feel free to contact me through my website.

  14. Mari Adkins says:

    I’ll admit it right here. I pitched a copy of Twilight across Half-Price Books after reading two paragraphs.

  15. […] not. (Well, OK, someone at Little, Brown needs to be held responsible for those Twilight books, but that’s another post altogether.) Publishing professionals know how to shepherd a book from raw manuscript to a finished product […]

  16. Ian R Thorpe says:

    Never read them but from what you say they are not as bad as 50 Shades Of Boring.

    It’s unfortunate that writers who take on sex scenes now seem to think it should be either kinky and fetishy or rough and animalistic, never erotic and spontaneous – and then write about it badly. Anyone wanting to write good sex scenes should read Anais Nin. Written in the 1930s her stuff makes ELJ’s prose look like a Mills and Boon bodice ripper.

    The worst I have seen though was a book titles Succubus Revealed which I picked up as a makeweight in a 3 for £5 clearance (had to buy three, just taking the two I wanted would have cost £3.50 each). Anyway I hurled Succubus Revealed across the room before getting to the end of page one. It gave the impression that the writer was a semi literate 12 year old. You’d love it.

  17. zack says:

    I keep hearing that the reason these books are even in existence is because Meyers knows how to connect with these girls through their emotions and fantasies. Bella can’t do anything and constantly ropes boys (Edward and Jacob) into doing things for her. Basically it seems like she is the exact opposite of what women should aspire to be. My biggest complaint with the movies (and the books) is one part in Breaking Dawn pt 1 where they discover Bella is pregnant and the first thing Edward does is immediately say abortion. Calling a miracle of life an unholy abomination. As a man this offended me like you wouldn’t believe. It sickens me that Meyer is basically saying: “This is your dream may girls, the guy that demands abortion without your opinion.” And what makes it worst is that these young girls are playing into it. Am I the only one that feels this way about the story? Please, I’m wanting to hear your opinion.

    • Jamie says:

      It’s not really in my purview to comment on any issues other than editorial ones. I do still firmly believe these books could have been better written and better edited, as noted in the post.

  18. […] books I liked. It’s less probable I’ll bring up books I didn’t like, although if you ask me, I’ll tell. This doesn’t mean I’m avoiding the issue of bad books or trying to “protect” my industry; […]

  19. Eki says:

    I love your post, and i love you

  20. Coral says:

    Actually, if you go on Stephanie Meyer’s website, in her FAQ, she mentions the complaints people had about her only using 3 different adjectives (over and over ad nauseum) to describe Edward, and she says she didn’t want to take the time to go back over her novel to make corrections.

    She got plenty of editorial help, she just declined to use it.

    Editors can’t force changes on an author, they can only make suggestions.

    • Mari Adkins says:

      gotta love that “i can’t be bothered” diva attitude. i hope if i *ever* even think about that, someone knocks some sense into me asap.

    • Jamie says:

      True: it’s the author’s book. But most of the publishers I work for have some sort of acceptance clause; if the editor doesn’t think the book is publishable, the author won’t get paid until it is made to be publishable. And, in the end, the publisher can simply choose NOT to publish.

  21. Charlotte says:

    Thank you for sharing this with us.

    I find it useful as I am trying to write a book myself. Therefore with these tips I will make the story a little bit better.

    I haven’t read any of her books.

  22. Ian R Thorpe says:

    I used to think vampires were just a silly legend but the way this thread keeps coming back to life I starting to believe in Dracula :-)

  23. […] If I don’t like a book, I stop reading it and move on. Oh, you all know I’m not crazy about the Twilight series or the Fifty Shades series, but generally I prefer raving about the books I liked rather than […]

  24. Sofia says:

    Thank you so much for writing this. I’m sending it to all my friends who obviously have no appreciation for literature if the only books they read are Twilight books and the Mortal Instruments.

  25. […] to something (her series is a huge bestseller, after all), she seems to be lacking something in the writing department, even more so than this garbage (on that, Ms. Meyer and I agree, though for different reasons). […]

  26. Please tell me once and for all how writers like Stephenie Meyer get published. I have my own ideas but want to hear it from someone in the business.

    Is it because the publishing industry is cynically attracted to sensational subject matter and promotes it safe in the knowledge that the average reader is too stupid to recognize literary quality or the lack of it?

    Someone answer this question and give me some relief. This novelist wants to know.

    • Jamie says:

      Susan :)
      Some of this has been discussed in the comments above. There were, I thought, some redeem qualities in the story. Story is king.

      When the book proposal came to the publisher, the first story was probably complete and the second and third were probably just brief outlines, devoid of any real detail. This is what sold to the publishing house. (In my opinion, it got shoddy editorial. I don’t have a reason for that. I don’t understand why, really, a freshman YA author wouldn’t get the same editorial care as, say, a well-thought-of writer of literary fiction. But that’s because I want to see all books as having merit. And I’ll come back to this, so hold on.)

      And then the novel sold like hotcakes. :) Honestly, these things are very hard to predict. It strikes a nerve with girls and then word of mouth turns it into a monster best seller.

      An author in possession of a monster best seller has a lot more power. She can say no. She can say But that’s the way I envision it. She can say STET. The publisher wants her to be happy, so it doesn’t push back very hard. The fact of the matter is, it is Meyer’s intellectual property. And girls were clamoring for the next book.

      Again, I think it was a crying shame that no one said, “Ms. Meyer, let’s bring in a strong line editor so you can get some hands-on experience with how to WRITE. Your stories are interesting, but the writing is sub-par. Let us help.” BUT! That’s just me.

      Hope this answers your question.

  27. As an addendum, how much of their success is due to their own petitioning? Having seen Stephenie Meyer talk, and having witnessed her clipped and hustling delivery, I can easily imagine her pushing her own cause with zeal. I seem to remember hearing that she sent her manuscript 15 different ways and lucked out with one of them.

    Do low quality writers get accepted through attrition? I’d guess there’s one or two weaklings in the trade who would publish her just to shut her up.

    • Ian R Thorpe says:

      A heartfelt plea Susan and one that as a former management consultant who writes for fun but has always fallen out with publishers and walked away, I am perhaps more qualified that people who work in the publishing industry to answer.

      In my experience people in publishing do not understand the business they are in. Not long ago in a thread on this site Jaimie was talking about the need to cut all unnecessary verbage from texts because publishers are bound by contracts and deals with Amazon etc. to obsess over wordcounts. (It’s encouraging to read that publishers are starting to stand up to Amazon, Bezos is a bean counter and bean counting is the enemy of creativity.

      What the thread told me however is that the publishing industry think they are in the business of selling paper. They’re not, they’re in the business of selling ideas.

      It isn’t just publishing, a couple of years ago I hear Monty Python member and movie director Terry Gilliam making much the same complaint about Hollywood as he explained why he prefers to make low budget, independent films. That was in a TV interview so I can’t link it but the link to my website (above) will take you to the article.

      Not long before I saw that Gilliam interview I’d read a rather tongue in cheek book title “How To Talk About Books You Have Not Read” by a French literature professor, Pierre Bayard. His point was the same, books are about ideas, not words and pages and we can become familiar with the ideas and theme of a book without have read it. Therefore it should not matter if a book is fifty or five hundred pages, stationers are in the business of selling paper, newspaper, directory and non fiction publishers are in thebusiness of selling information, fiction and biography publishers are in the business of selling stories and ideas.

      Writers like Stephanie Meyer (whom I have not read) get published because they sell paper. I hope that gives you a few ideas to think about :-)

      • Jamie says:

        Ian —
        You have a couple things wrong here. First, my post about word count does NOT say that “publishers are bound by contracts and deals with Amazon etc” regarding word count. Suggested word count has to do with industry standards — it’s a rule of thumb sort of thing having to do with what readers are willing to spend (in time and in money) on a book in a particular category. Publishers have seen what sells, and when they are considering whether or not to take a chance on a new author, the likelihood of that happening increases if the word count falls in the “normal” (industry standard) range.

        I’m not sure I even understand the commentary on selling paper, but I disagree that this is what publishers are selling. The length of Meyer’s books really had nothing to do with her getting a publishing deal. E-books, of course, are the absolute opposite of “paper,” too, so, again, “selling paper” isn’t the issue here.

    • Jamie says:

      Petitioning, as you call it, had nothing to do with it. Nagging gets you nowhere. The way Meyer talks has nothing to do with it. Contact with the publishing house would have been handled by an agent, not by Meyer.

      Persistence is another thing. But that would be handled by an agent, of course.

      Regarding quality, you might read my post about Fifty Shades of Grey.
      Not everyone likes the same thing. And not everyone requires “good writing.”

  28. […] to find.[21] Perhaps it is for these reasons that Meyer is more universally accepted as a great writer while Martin gets so little attention. Yes, the tribe has spoken, the fat lady has sung, and […]

  29. Please tell me you’re not a writer, Jamie Chavez. All these “writers” throw all these opinions around about Meyer’s writing and it’s simply not interesting. Meyer is very successful & has made a ton of money. Now THAT’S interesting. If people could write something better, why don’t they just DO IT instead of writing a piece on how bad they think another successful work is? People, if you can do better, DO IT then. Stop writing about how you could do it & just do it.

    • Jamie says:

      Please tell me you’re not an editor, Unknown Soldier. Making a ton of money a) is not always a mark of success, and b) certainly no guarantee of a quality product. This is a straw man argument made by someone not brave or interesting enough to use his/her own name.

      • shiny says:

        I just came across this post and i am shocked to see how a professional blogger or writer (as you call yourself), who has so many admirers to comment under your post -could write so harshly about an author. She was just a writer who out of excitement wrote her dream and so beautifully carried out sequels and yes there are people who loved it and that’s how she made money.Ofcourse thats a huge success. now dont go around and comment im from editorial team or someone close to meyer.I swear i came across twilight when i was in college but hardly had time to read.But now being aspirant writer i am finding inspirations for me to enter this writing world. Such harsh blogs on even famous writers makes people like us shrink to corner and far afraid to write further. No one is perfect/scholar nor there is a perfect good story out there. every novel every story ought to be different in today’s world.Please encourage people and be happy when someone succeeds.Envying on others success is not gonna fetch you anything.moreover it discourages aspirant writers like us to try anything in future.

  30. shiny says:

    I did read carefully and typed these words from my heart what i felt. It doesnt mean i need to read your entire blog just to comment in this section. Hopefully let me come across some other emulating post of yours in future.Thanks!

  31. […] raw and unedited. Meyer’s prose has never sparkled as much as her vampires, and plenty of editors have weighed in on its room for improvement. But Midnight Sun drives home how much Stephenie […]

  32. Fran says:

    When the first book came out a friend and I had a discussion about how horribly written it was. She’d read it cover to cover. I read page one and felt the urge to pluck my eyeballs out. The topic was renewed today when another friend posted on FB he was reading Meyer’s latest. (I assume she’s written something new, and I’m hoping she’s gotten better at it.) It occured to me this morning at 2:30 as I made macaroni salad for a barbecue later today (can’t sleep because who the hell knows why) that the original manuscript could have been so atrocious — the lifting so heavy — that we should be grateful for what was published.

    That last statement will likely go down as the only glass-half-full utterance of my lifetime.

    The writing is shit. There are no two ways about it.

  33. Veronica Daze says:

    Editors are jaded. I’m sorry and I don’t care what they have to say about dos and don’ts. Can’t stand most of Stephan Kings drivel. No one has to be the best writer in the world to sell books, to create a great story. This is what Stephanie Meyer did. This person critiquing is like a lot of people I have seen post about the books and tear them apart. Well this is my opinion, if and when you sell as many books as Stephanie Meyer has and had them made into movies then your opinion might count. Her editor made her do many rewrites. The last book she wrote completely over because the first offering her editor thought was too sexy for the audience they wanted to attract; teens and young adults. It was refreshing to see a new take on vampires. I have read many fiction books on the topic and hers were unique to a degree. All of this slicing and dicing doesn’t explain why they were wildly popular, or the Sookie Stackhouse books and the Hunger Games. All the writers were on the same level. I don’t like the writing style of the lady who wrote the Hunger Games but here we are with her stories made into films. Novels don’t have to be written textbook perfect. They have to resonate with people and Ms. Meyer’s books and movies did just that. I have found she did a lot of research and included real places in her books she fictionalized. I do the same thing. I like her writing and her stories and that is all that matters. People bought the books and read them. I’m a senior so don’t think the appeal is only toward teens. My daughter was in management at a movie chain when the films were released and she said there were people of all ages at every opening and they filled several theaters. I see no reason to continue to insult or critique Ms. Meyer’s books any longer…they did what every writer wants, they sold.

    • Jamie Chavez says:

      At the risk of repeating myself, this is a hodge-podge of straw man (woman?) arguments that don’t hold water and don’t convince me. Making a lot of money a) is not always a mark of success, and b) certainly no guarantee of a quality product.

      Since MY argument is that we should strive to offer the very best product we can—especially to impressionable young women, some of whom may be aspiring writers— It’s also clear that you didn’t read the post thoroughly or simply didn’t understand it. I’m tired of folks trying to defend the indefensible with scattered comments that do not make a cogent argument. Come back when you can put a coherent thought in writing.

  34. Louise Jane says:

    The author wrote a story of love and passion. It is a work of fiction and therefore make-believe. One either enjoys the experience or not, and it matters not a jot whether it is grammatically perfect or otherwise. Reading is for pleasure and it is subjective.

    • Sara says:

      That maybe is true for YOU, Louise Jane. That’s not true for all readers including myself. It’s certainly not true for other WRITERS to whom this post is the targeted audience. Plus do go back over & read this post. Go through some others on the craft of writing. You might get a better understanding of what you’re reading by looking at it through the prism of how it’s constructed.

      Reading also isn’t just for pleasure for editors. They may enjoy what they read for WORK. They may not. But, it’s primary purpose is for work. They get paid by the publishing house to do so if they’re aren’t farmed out for other tasks. Other professions such those in Hollywood also read a lot for WORK. Lawyers read briefs for cases. Doctors read to keep up with the latest medical journals. Saying reading is for merely pleasure and its subjective in a singular way lacks clarity & is an over generalization. It’s also a very naive declaration that is also a LIE.

      Another point. The author DID NOT write a story of love. They never loved one another. Bella didn’t know one real thing about Edward other than a couple of superficial details. She really didn’t get into his likes & dislikes that well. She actually was dismissive of the Q & A he, the douchebag stalker, instigated. She only went on & on about his APPEARANCE. Neither one cared or respected the other’s feelings or perspectives. Both were only about what THEY thought & felt. That’s not love. That’s not passion either. It’s just superficial, selfish, self-absorbed lust. That’s it.

      With all due respect, it’s no wonder that you missed all that despite it being hanging naked out there for all to see. It’s way bad grammar & sentence structure are so important. Clarity of expressing the idea the writer wishes to convey. Or, in Meyer’s case, doesn’t intend. She didn’t know what she was doing. She shied away from taking any type of creative writing class in college at BYU (Brigham Young University) only because it scared her & she didn’t want to deal with it. She had took to one to complete her degree, though. She chose poetry only because she knew she could fake her way through it. (A Motley interview- “Interview: Twilight author Stephenie Meyer” by William Morris October 26, 2005. Question: “What professors and/or experiences at BYU influenced your writing?”) The woman never honed her craft. She hadn’t ever written even one short story before Twilight. She needed an editor with that much lack of experience & it shows in her story. She should have welcomed the help of the editors if they’re help was offered to her given her severe lack of experience.

  35. Jake Smith says:

    So I’m going ahead to say outright that I’m neither a writer or a publisher. I was just taken back by your post, and to put it precisely, dumbfounded. Because I’ve read every comment on the this particular discussion that has taken place. (Also a quick apology with any grammar or mistakes I make while typing out my personal thoughts). Justifyingly you’re completely right, but to be blunt, I didn’t realize just how bad the whole plot actually was. I read the books right after the first movie came out in theaters. And to have a little laugh about the targeted audience, it was my father who took me to see the film. I’m 19, currently running my own business. So I can relate to success, but I also see too clearly on your original post, which was only to point out her lack of skill. Yes she’s successful, but your only “beef” with her was simply that she could’ve done things so much better. (I agree) You weren’t bashing her because she is now a very wealthy woman, nor were you mentioning anything other than her writing ability. Your comment hit a home run! Not that I know the first thing about being a susceptible writer, but I know common knowledge on the basis of what is and isn’t a good read. I love reading, one of my absolute favorite times of solitude. Which is why I loved reading up on what you thought of the books. It really put into perspective just what was “bad” about the books. Even though I read all four, (and enjoyed them) I still couldn’t get over the fact that iI had so many complaints. Yet here you’re answering everything I was looking for, props! Thanks! I just wanted to show you some appreciation. Hopefully I can learn from your own experience, using it to distinguish what to read and what not to read!

    • jamiechavez says:

      Jake — I appreciate your comments. Since I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that some folks don’t read carefully and some folks only want to read material that reinforces their biases. Their loss!

  36. Elisa says:

    I´ve been reading Anne Rice and her words are so satisfying that I won´t even bother reading Stephanie´s books. I can´t judge her grammar because english is not my native language. The plot though, doesn´t sound interesting to me. I don´t even know why I´m here, it all happened so long ago! xD

  37. Angela K. says:

    Hello! Stumbled upon your post while reading about Anne Rice’s vampire chronicles. Somehow I got here :) I remember when I was 13, I went to the neighbourhood bookstore and saw that this book was immensely popular. I read the blurb and put it down again. I knew what it was going to be like, and I knew it was going to be terrible. The idea was unoriginal, and the story seemed dry. A few years later, my friends were addicted to this book. I picked it up again, read through the first few chapters… and then I had to put it down. THE WRITING…. it was nearly like reading a facebook post. It was absolutely terrible! I felt like I could write better than she could. The way she answered everything with “he muttered” etc. It felt like a fanfiction. I cringed, left the book to die, and never looked back. =_= I don’t regret it. As the girls who loved it then, are ashamed of it now. And I still have nothing to be ashamed of.

9 Trackbacks

  1. […] I’ve been kind of obsessively reading over some of her older posts, and then I came across this little gem. In which she discusses some of the many many many problems with what I’ve come to dub the […]

  2. […] You might think this example contradicts what I’ve said because it’s cool to hate on Stephenie Meyer’s writing. […]

  3. By Can I get an ‘Amen’? « Jesi Lee Novelist on 23 October, 2012 at 1:18 am

    […] means is they found the story compelling. This is the same thing women said about Twilight—and I’m on record as having been hooked, initially, by that story, so I get it. A good story covers a multitude of […]

  4. By A Novelist Needs an Editor. For Real. on 1 December, 2012 at 11:53 am

    […] not. (Well, OK, someone at Little, Brown needs to be held responsible for those Twilight books, but that’s another post altogether.) Publishing professionals know how to shepherd a book from raw manuscript to a finished product […]

  5. By Short Saturday: More Criticism, Less Liking on 28 February, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    […] books I liked. It’s less probable I’ll bring up books I didn’t like, although if you ask me, I’ll tell. This doesn’t mean I’m avoiding the issue of bad books or trying to “protect” my industry; […]

  6. By How Did This Book Get Published? (Part 1 of 6) on 21 October, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    […] If I don’t like a book, I stop reading it and move on. Oh, you all know I’m not crazy about the Twilight series or the Fifty Shades series, but generally I prefer raving about the books I liked rather than […]

  7. […] to something (her series is a huge bestseller, after all), she seems to be lacking something in the writing department, even more so than this garbage (on that, Ms. Meyer and I agree, though for different reasons). […]

  8. By A Game of Twilight? | George Schorschi Comedy on 10 August, 2014 at 7:20 am

    […] to find.[21] Perhaps it is for these reasons that Meyer is more universally accepted as a great writer while Martin gets so little attention. Yes, the tribe has spoken, the fat lady has sung, and […]

  9. By Five ways editing is like weeding | Cliff Notes on 19 July, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    […] raw and unedited. Meyer’s prose has never sparkled as much as her vampires, and plenty of editors have weighed in on its room for improvement. But Midnight Sun drives home how much Stephenie […]